Alinghi, Switzerland's defending America's Cup champion, has won the 13th and final preliminary "act" of the Louis Vuitton Cup in Valencia.This content was published on April 8, 2007 - 12:35
Saturday's two fleet races were the last chance for the 11 challengers to race against Alinghi. On April 16 the challengers begin the round-robin Louis Vuitton Cup to determine who will go head-to-head with Alinghi in the 32nd America's Cup on June 23.
"It's true we dominated this Act 13 and for us to continue comparing our level to the other challengers is always a plus," said Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli, who is part of the team's strategic unit.
Alinghi finished with 78 points, 14 more than two-time season winner Emirates Team New Zealand. Mascalzone Latino was the best of the three Italian syndicates, finishing third with 63 points after a third-place finish in the final fleet race.
The 13 Louis Vuitton Acts are divided into seven regattas, spread over three years in order to keep public interest high between America's Cups. The acts are fought between any team that fancies a shot at the holder of the America's Cup.
For a challenger to win the America's Cup, they must first win the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Ranking points awarded for each act increase as they get closer to the final. With Alinghi's placing not factored into the overall challenger rankings, Act 13 is worth triple points with teams also receiving bonus points based on rankings to carry into the Louis Vuitton Cup, which could mean the difference in a tiebreaker for the final places of the semifinals.
"The goal of Act 13 was to see if the boat was going to be able to match our expectations against the challengers," Bertarelli said. "We now have to stay vigilant because teams like Emirates Team New Zealand and BMW Oracle Racing haven't brought out their latest boats so all is not written. But we are happy."
US entry BMW Oracle Racing finished fifth with 57 points – two fewer than Luna Rossa of Italy.
BMW Oracle Racing navigator Peter Isler was impressed with Alinghi's performance, but said the Swiss team was not unbeatable.
"They and Emirates Team New Zealand were a click above everyone else," the two-time America's Cup winner said.
"Alinghi has always proven throughout the three years that they're one of the players and have the potential to win any given regatta. Their new boat seems really good and so Alinghi up near the top of the fleet in the fleet race is no surprise – it's where they've been all season."
Emirates Team New Zealand collected four bonus points for finishing at the top, followed by BMW Oracle Racing, Luna Rossa, and Desafio Espanol, who earned three bonus points each.
Mascalzone Latino, Victory Challenge and Shosholoza earned two points each for finishing fifth through seventh, and Areva Challenge, United Internet Team Germany and China Team all earned one bonus point.
+39 Challenge, which failed to race for the third straight day after breaking its mast in a collision with the Germans in Wednesday's third fleet race, had already been awarded two bonus points.
swissinfo with agencies
Final results of the 13 Louis Vuitton Acts:
1. Alinghi, Switzerland, 78 points.
2. Emirates Team New Zealand, New Zealand, 64.
3. Mascalzone Latino, Italy, 63.
4. Luna Rossa, Italy, 60.
5. BMW Oracle Racing, US, 57.
6. Desafio Espanol, Spain, 55.
7. Shosholoza, South Africa, 43.
8. Victory Challenge, Sweden, 35.
9. Areva Challenge, France, 31.
10. United Internet Team Germany, Germany, 29.
11. +39 Challenge, Italy, 17.
12. China Team, China, 15.
The America's Cup is the oldest and most prestigious trophy in the sailing world.
Switzerland's win against New Zealand in 2003 brought the trophy back to Europe for the first time since 1851. It was the first time a syndicate won the competition on its first attempt.
The first race, held in England in 1851, was won by the New York Yacht Club's representative "America". The club's yachts remained undefeated for 132 years (until 1983).
The 32nd America's Cup will take place between June 23 and July 7, 2007 in Valencia, Spain between the current holder, Alinghi, and the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup, which will take place from April 16 to June 12, 2007.